Citrix Synergy Europe 2011 – Impressive and Confusing

I’ve been in Barcelona last week, attending Citrix Synergy. If I were a Citrix customer, I’d be both impressed and confused after this event. There is a simple reason for this: While Citrix introduced amazing new products and announced spectacular acquisitions, they missed to present a clear strategy or just a simple overview. What is a customer supposed to do now? Stay with the products he already bought and just upgrade them? Move everything into the cloud? Collect information about all the new Citrix components and products in order to build the big overview picture themselves?

Let’s dig into the details and take a look at the things Mark Templeton and a handful of live demo specialists covered in a two and a half hour keynote on Wednesday morning.

  • Next partnership with Cisco; Citrix and Cisco signed a new multi-year strategic alliance agreement.
  • Acquisition of App-DNA, giving Citrix access to assessment information of the endpoints.
  • Acquisition of ShareFile for content and data management in the personal cloud.
  • Acquisition of Kaviza and converting it into VDI-in-a-Box.
  • Acquisition of Cloud.com.
  • New GoToMeeting feature called Workspaces, allowing users to collaborate and share data.
  • Follow-me-Apps for mobile devices, powered by Citrix XenApp.
  • New version of Citrix Receiver with Follow-me-Data.
  • Citrix CloudGateway with StoreFront Services and Content Controllers for XenDesktop, XenApp, Web, SaaS and Mobile replaces Web Interface, allowing users to orchestrate applications and desktops consumed from multiple sources.
  • A personal vDisk allowing the extension and personalization of a Windows core image.
  • HDX System-on-a-Chip based on technologies provided by NComputing and Texas Instruments, and supported by HP, Wyse, DevonIT, LG and others.
  • NetScaler CloudBridge connecting datacenters to any cloud.
  • Remoting Windows applications through a local browser with HTML5.

Wow! This is a lot of stuff. I was hoping that the Thursday morning CTO Super Session would shed some light on the details. And really, the session was really interesting.

  • Bernd Christiansen, CTO Collaboration, presented GoToMeeting Workspaces and its integration into LinkedIn.
  • Sheng Liang, CTO Cloud Platform, explained CloudBridge, which unfortunately is not a shipping product yet. In this session, Donal Lafferty demoed a cloud-based desktop by integrating XenDesktop 5.5, Desktop Studio, Receiver and CloudStack.
  • Martin Duursma, CTO Office Chair and VP Citrix Labs, co-presented with Adam Jaques. In their demo they used Visual Studio and the XenApp 6.5 Mobility Pack SDK to adapt an existing Windows application to mobile devices.

If you want to learn about the details of the CTO Super Session, take a look at Tim Mangan’s article on BrianMadden.com. My take on the Super Session is that all the products and demos presented were great, but I was missing some fundamental facts:

  • What is the future of XenApp? It was mentioned in Mark T’s keynote and it seems to be the technology behind Follow-me-Apps. But what are customers supposed to do now when they are still using XenApp? Migrate to XenDesktop or continue using XenApp?
  • It not always became clear which products presented are available today and which are not. There was no timeline or roadmap slide showing when products and updates will be shipped. Microsoft does a way better job here at their Tech-Ed or MMS keynotes.
  • There was no architectural blueprint showing how all products fit together. Okay, I have to admit that Citrix may have too many products now to put them all in one picture. But why didn’t we see architectural overviews of the individual Citrix technology groups, like Desktop and Apps, Receiver and Gateways, Cloud Networking, Cloud Platform and Collaboration.
  • There were no recommendations targeted at different categories of customers. In other words which products should existing large XenApp/XenDesktop customers start looking at? What about service providers? What about smaller customers? What about new customers?
  • What happened to the traditional client? Without any doubt, Citrix is targeting at the virtual market only. But products like GoToMeeting, NetScaler, XenApp published applications, User Profile Manager and to some extend XenClient can also be beneficial for traditional physical clients. Unfortunately, there was no word about this in the keynotes. Only some breakout or panel sessions briefly mentioned such scenarios.
  • And finally, there was no word about the integration of Microsoft RemoteFX into HDX anymore. Instead there was the announcement of HDX System-on-a-Chip, the announcement of a new Cisco partnership and an obvious dominance of iPads in the demos. Is this the beginning of the end of a long friendship between Citrix and Microsoft?

As I said previously, Synergy was truly impressive, but also confusing. After trying to digest everything I learned at Synergy for 48 hours, I’m still wondering what the future Citrix strategy is. And I guess that I’m not the only one.

4 comments

  1. Hi Benny,

    Very good blog, you said it all about Citrix announcement, and I think you made a point clear : Citrix didn’t gave as much information as they were used to do (release date, a bit of architecture interoperability between products etc…) But I think there is one good reason for that : Nothing is ready “enough” yet. Just try the CloudGateway Express beta you’ll notice it’s really a Tech Prev, still some issue to make it work well. CloudGateway Express is known as Citrix Receiver StoreFront, two names ? same products ? It does look like it.
    I understand where and how Citrix want to go, but this is my everyday job to digest and understand that. So I agree customers (the one that pay us to do this job) might be a bit lost in front of all the Citrix/Cloud/Share/GoTo-Fuss during this Synergy.
    I also think Citrix is waiting for next year (Synergy SF) to make all he major announcement with availability date etc…

    Cheers,

    Stephane Thirion
    http://www.archy.net

    Comment by Stephane Thirion on October 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm

  2. I remember once (less than 2 years ago) somebody from Citrix said that XenApp is a billion dollar monster that basically runs Citrix. Lately there is less info about XenApp and all the major new things have something to do with clouds/share/cool social apps. I think even today XenApp is the strongest product they owe, and most of the clients run XenApp. As Benny noticed there is no clear future of the XenApp.
    Maybe I am wrong and my clients just now started discovering XenApp 😉

    Comment by Frane Borozan on October 31, 2011 at 5:42 pm

  3. Great blog, but I think that the day of looking to a vendor to provide a single strategy ended some time ago. I am not sure Citrix needs to join all of the dots, just simply provide enough of them to enable us to draw the best picture for our own unique enterprises and users individual needs.

    As corny as the 3 PC vision Mark touts may be, I feel it is by far the best explanation of cloud, and what it means within an enterprise I have ever come across. I feel that this provides the overarching foundation for all nextgen services.

    I agree wholeheartedly with regards release dates, I hope Citrix does not feel the need to over promise as some others within the EUC marketplace seem to do as the norm.

    Comment by Simon Rugg on October 31, 2011 at 8:51 pm

  4. I dont think Citrix are crazy enough even in the long-term to stop developing Xenapp because it is a cash cow. Xenapp even fits into the cloud nicely and still gives better bang for buck than other solutions.

    Comment by declan on October 31, 2011 at 9:32 pm

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